The world’s most-populous Muslim nation just banned holiday travel over Ramadan

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Indonesia has temporarily banned domestic road, air and sea travel starting Friday to prevent the spread of coronavirus, as millions of Muslims mark the start of the holy month of Ramadan.Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim nation and tens of millions of people make their way home to celebrate the end of Ramadan each year with families and loved ones, an annual tradition called mudik.But the country is grappling with rapidly rising numbers of coronavirus infections and there are concerns that the mass migration home for Idul Fitri — the Indonesian name for Eid al-Fitr, the celebration that marks the end of the month-long Ramadan fast — will spark further Covid-19 outbreaks.In the early stages of the pandemic, Indonesia was a regional outlier, not reporting any Covid-19 cases until early March. Now, the country has the second-worst outbreak in Southeast Asia, behind Singapore.To try to prevent the disease spreading further, all holiday travel in the country has been banned, with public transport between major cities suspended from Friday until May 31. Tens of thousands of troops are being deployed at checkpoints to enforce the regulations.‘Ghosts’ try to spook people off streets during coronavirus in IndonesiaPrivate vehicles and motorbikes have been banned from traveling in and out of the major cities that are Covid-19 hotspots, known as “red zones.” In these places, stricter lockdown measures are in force to contain the virus. The Greater Jakarta area is one such zone, where coronavirus has spread rapidly in the past month.Indonesia has recorded 8,211 coronavirus cases and 689 people have died, according to government figures. Indonesian President Joko Widodo declared a national public health emergency on March 31 but has not issued a nationwide lockdown.This year, Indonesian Muslims will be observing Ramadan in very different circumstances. Strict social distancing measures in coronavirus hotspots, such as the capital Jakarta, prevent families and friends from visiting each other and breaking their fast together with the iftar meal.Indonesia’s Ulema Council and Nahdlatul Ulama, the country’s largest Islamic organizations, called for Muslims not to pray together in the mosques. The government has not implemented a ban to close any mosques at this stage.”There is no splendor on the streets, the mosque space is in silence, the new atmosphere we will feel, absorbing the true meaning of fasting that we run,” President Joko Widodo said, encouraging Muslims to focus on private prayer and make fasting a personal worship.”Let’s welcome the blessing Ramadan as a moment to break the chain of transmission of the plague for the sake of personal safety, relatives and the entire nation.”

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